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:: Spotlight :: Interview with Kate Ceberano

By: Daniel Vigilante

Kate Ceberano is not only one of Australia’s most loved and accomplished artists, she’s also one of our most prolific. The release of ‘So Much Beauty’ this month is her 17th full length album, and if, like wine, artists only get better with age, this may very well prove to be her best release yet. And that’s exactly the purport Kate herself put forth, as she explained to me in a friendly and lively chat. “I think this is one of my favourite albums ever. I’m usually very shy about saying things like that because obviously we like to like our own work, but I very rarely listen to my old stuff, and this is an album that I’ve already been listening to quite a bit. I’m enjoying something about it.”

And that ‘something about it’ may simply be the fact that it’s so listenable; its easy listening soft melodies is my guess as to where the attraction lies, and this, surely, is that ‘something’. And of course when you consider that the majority of the album is made up of cover songs from an eclectic mix of great pop tunes, it doesn’t take long before you’re humming along and tapping to a familiar rhythm that’s been twisted a little to give it some of Kate’s musical personality.

She was just recovering from a “week of creativity”, having been the muse to AFL footballer, Russell Robertson, on Channel Seven’s ‘It Takes Two’, and was so impressed with Russell that she actually asked him to feature on the new album. She says that he has been “amazing” in both ventures, but does admit to it being a little “weird” having a footballer singing on her album. But this is mere happenstance, and singing quality is paramount over status, as she explains: “I take my music very seriously, so I wouldn’t have put him on if I didn’t think that he was genuinely a great singer, and that’s true, I really do. He’s been an absolute joy and it’s so surprising to work with someone so gifted in another area and to be so clever as a performing artist as well.”

He accompanies her on one the three original tracks that are on the album, Never Say Never, and does a commendable job at convincing the listener that this—and not kicking a football—is his day job. The point of having some original tracks on the album was very important to Kate. “It’s a good balance. Of all my hits over the years, most of them have been my own originals, and with radio singles, you only get to really showcase two or three, and then of the others, I wanted to be my favourite songs that I was listening to currently or that I’ve always wanted to do interpretations of.”

While Kate essentially does have autonomy over which songs she covers, she does welcome contributions from her group, and admits that even the record label and management contributed some good ideas. “Normally I get a bit obsessive about my own stuff and it’s hard to be objective, so I’ve been able to see how all the different qualities and different suggestions have made it work. And that’s new for me (laughs).”

The decision to have a more contemporary feel was a conscious decision to contrast with the Nine Lime Avenue album, which was a paean to her favourite 80’s tracks. Her cover of Maroon 5’s ‘She Will Be Loved’ is a brilliantly adapted compliment to the original and is one of my favourites on the album, which she agrees with. “Yeah, I love that version. I like it when you can take a different angle; with this one, the story I told was not the yearning of the male, but rather of the person observing the male…..There’s a great pathos there of being able to describe someone else’s journey. I felt really able to inhabit his (singer Adam Levine’s) skin when I sing that song.”

And does it help being able to indentify more with lyrics when you sing them?
“Oh definitely. I think everything has to be message oriented. I mean, I love mindless dance music too, don’t get me wrong, but for me as a performer and then getting up on stage, I have to feel as though I can help my audience take some journey, and great lyrics really allow you to take them there.”

Another version that appealed to me was her cover of K.T Tunstall’s Suddenly I See, which slows the beat down, adds some bongos and becomes something you might listen to on a lazy Sunday afternoon, relaxing in a banana lounge drink schnapps. But the reason for choosing this track to cover goes a lot deeper than my Sunday reverie.
“When there’s so much significance loaded onto a person’s look or age or any of these things, a song like that, in one full swoop, tells you how irrelevant it is. But at the same time, you kick yourself for being concerned about it. And I mean, this is a relevant issue to my friends, people in this business, and people generally, I suppose…..I think that ultimately, eventually you have to learn to love your own skin. After so many years, myself, being in and out of love, to finally reach some sought of happy home has been amazing. And that’s essentially reflected in the album. For me it’s a collection of all the things of beauty, on a private level.”

For more information, visit

www.kateceberano.com